If you follow me on some of my other social media outlets, then you likely already have heard that recently I had the opportunity to travel abroad to Cuba. For those of you just joining in, you heard that right, I (an American citizen) traveled to Cuba. Knowing the “taboo” (for lack of a better word) that surrounds the nation of Cuba, I thought I would share with you over a couple of different posts about my experiences there, and would welcome/encourage any additional questions that you may have!
For the sake of structure, I thought I’d start by answering some of the most common questions I’ve been asked about my trip since I’ve been home. Once again I would shout out to you as readers to post any questions you have in the comments section below. Here we go…
Q: So you went to Cuba… What in the world took you there?
As you may know, I’m currently a second year law student at Drake University, and have been fortunate to be part of the leading Agricultural Law program in the nation. Last year our law school pioneered a relationship between our Ag Law program and a Cuban equivalent program. This relationship paved the way for the development of a class within the Drake curriculum, in which we compared/contrasted the American agricultural infrastructure vs. the Cuban system. Part of the class included this 7-day trip to the country, to see it all first-hand.
Q: Wait, I didn’t think Americans could go to Cuba. How did you get around that?
Yes, there are a large amount of travel restrictions between the US and Cuba… mostly due to the fact that we continue to have an embargo against them. However, over the past few years, current the current Obama administration, we have seen some of these restrictions “lightened” (meaning they are still there, just less rigid). Our group worked closely with a travel agency that helped set-up our travel visas and necessary paperwork to get into, and back out of, the country. We traveled under a very specific visa, which was granted solely for educational purposes.
Q: What all did you get to see while you were there?
As I mentioned before, the basis and overall theme for the trip was evaluating their agricultural infrastructure and legal system. We visited some urban gardens that were pioneering different organic production practices, learned about how their marketed their commodities from a local co-op, and discussed the similarities and differences between our agricultural law systems with some of their country’s industry leaders. With that being said, we also took the opportunity to learn about their culture and history while we were there as well.
Q: So overall, how was the trip? Would you go back?
I must admit, it was hard for this tech-savy, email-addicted girl to sort of fall off the grid for a week, but I really enjoyed the experience (I mean who wouldn’t want to short vacation from the frigid Iowa winter). I will confess that while I personally do not agree with many components of their political structure, it certainly was interesting and eye-opening to see how they make it work. Having traveled to a number of different countries in the past, I can honestly say that I came back from this trip more grateful than ever for the lifestyle I am able to enjoy here in the US. Now, would I go back…. maybe someday, but for right now I’m going to enjoy the good ol’ US of A.